Americas & Beyond | June 2009
|Religious Icon from Mexico Visits California|
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Santa Paula, Calif. - Thousands are flocking to a Santa Paula church to see the religious icon known as El Santo Nino de Atocha or the holy child of Atocha.
The devotion to El Santo Nino de Atocha originated in Spain. The original statue of the Holy Child of Atocha was imported from Spain and now resides in the little town of Fresnillo, Mexico.
El Santo Nino de Atocha is the patron saint of those unjustly imprisoned. He also protects travelers and rescues people in danger.
The reported third most cherished religious icon in Mexico will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe church through June 14th.
Visit the website at NinoAtocha.com
History of El Santo Niño de Atocha
The devotion to El Santo Nino de Atocha originated in Spain. Its origin may be related to Our Lady of Atocha, in Madrid, Spain, who is mentioned in the "Cantigas" of King Alphonse the Wise in the 13th century. During medieval times, the Moors held large areas and battles between the Christians and Moors were commonplace. The Moors invaded the town of Atocha.
Following a certain battle, the victorious Moors held a great many Christians captive, and prevented the adult villagers from visiting as well as bringing the prisoners food or water. Fearing for the lives of the prisoners, their families stormed heaven with prayers for relief. One day, a child appeared, dressed as a pilgrim of that period, carrying a basket of food and a gourd of water. The Moors allowed the child to bring food and water each day.
The prisoners were fed, but the basket and gourd remained full. The child was not known to the Christians nor to the Moors, so the people concluded that the child Jesus, disguised as a pilgrim, had come to their rescue.
In artwork, the Holy Child often wears a brimmed hat with a plume and a cloak or cape ornate with the St. James shell. (During the Crusades, scallop shells were the symbol of holy pilgrimages and one European variety is still referred to as "the pilgrim" or "St. James' shell." Poets have written about their beauty and artists have admired their symmetry and grace.) In his left hand, He carries a pilgrim's staff to the gourd of water is fastened, a pair of shackles, and a few spears of wheat. In his right hand, He holds a basket which generally contains bread or flowers. He either wears sandals or is barefoot. The Child is said to roam the hills and valleys, particularly at night, bringing aid and comfort to the needy, and thereby wearing out his shoes. He is usually shown seated.
The original statue of the Holy Child of Atocha was imported from Spain and now resides in the little town of Fresnillo, Mexico. El Santo Nino de Atocha is the patron saint of those unjustly imprisoned. He also protects travelers and rescues people in danger.
Prayer to the Miraculous Child of Atocha
All-knowing Child of Atocha, protector of all men, protection of invalids, divine doctor of any illness. Most Powerful Child, I greet you, I praise you on this day and I offer you these three Our Fathers, and Hail Marys, with a Glory be to the Father in memory of the journey that you made incarnate in the most pure womb of your most beloved Mother from the holy city of Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
For the petitions that I make today, I ask you to grant my request, for which I submit these deeds and in unison with the choir of Cherabim and Seraphim, adorned with the most perfect wisdom, because precious Child of Atocha, happy in sending my supplication, I know that I will not be disapointed by you and I will obtain a good death in order to accompany you in the glory of Bethlehem. Amen